It looks like Van Halen’s 2015 North American tour will feature at least as many deep cuts as their 2012-2013 tour did. In the last few days, bass player Wolfgang Van Halen has been busy online, posting short video clips of the band playing some of their lesser known songs that longtime fans have been waiting years to hear live.
On Thursday night (April 30), he put up a short Instagram video of the band rehearsing “Drop Dead Legs,” a favorite of hardcore fans that has never before been performed live, from the 1984 album. The previous day, Wolf shared a snippet of them playing the instrumental from “In A Simple Rhyme” (from the Women and Children First album, released in 1980), noting: “Another day, another rehearsal, another tune to try out…” Tuesday (April 28), he posted a brief practice session video of “Dirty Movies” — the second song on the band’s 1981 Fair Warning album — on Instagram with the caption: “Trying something new today at rehearsal…”
The week before, the bassist tweeted a request for fans to suggest songs they want to hear: “Working on setlist ideas right now… Which ‘deep cuts’ or “‘b-sides’ would you like to hear on this upcoming #VanHalen tour??” — and received an extensive wish list. One of the more popular suggestions was “Me Wise Magic,” from the band’s 1996 Best Of – Volume I compilation album.
However, when Van Halen performs at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards on May 17, at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas and nationally broadcast on ABC TV, they’ll likely stick with a more conventional setlist of their better known hits. Other scheduled performers on the show include Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, and Sam Smith.
Until then, fans are poring over Eddie Van Halen’s latest interview, featured on the cover of the June issue of “Guitar World” magazine. During the lengthy piece, he revealed tidbits such as why the band released a live album (“Tokyo Dome In Concert”) at this time: “We realized that we have never made a live album with Dave. Since we had already released a studio album with Wolfgang playing on it, it also made sense for us to do a live album with both Wolf and Dave.”
The guitar legend also answered one of longtime fans’ most persistent questions, why Van Halen never released either or both of the entire 1981 Oakland shows that were recorded on video: “The bottom line is we can’t ever release the whole Oakland show[s] because we didn’t film or record the whole show[s].” The videos of “Unchained,” “So This Is Love,” and “Hear About It Later” from those shows were in heavy rotation during the early days of MTV.
While waiting for the tour to start, fans can bid on a rare opportunity to meet Eddie and see the band at an upcoming show. The charity auction for the John Varvatos 12th Annual Stuart House Benefit. The online auction ends May 13 at 4 p.m. EDT.